December 01, 2003 01:00 AM

Ben Affleck likes to play around, all right — with cards. And he’s not alone, PEOPLE reports.

Leading a new breed of Hollywood Poker Brats, Affleck has joined a slew of stars for the first-ever “Celebrity Poker Showdown,” airing Tuesday night on the Bravo network. Paul Rudd, David Schwimmer, Jack Black, David Cross, Michael Ian Black, Sarah Silverman and Emily Procter are among those who gathered for the event, which was created by Josh Malina of “The West Wing” (who has his own regular game going with Hank Azaria).

The special will be hosted by actor-comedian Kevin Pollak, who has been playing Seven-Card Stud in high-stakes games against pros for the past 15 years.

As for Affleck’s turn, PEOPLE says he paid $10,000 to enter a tournament at the Sands casino. There he played Texas Hold ‘Em for six hours, then moved on to the Borgata for dinner and more cards in the casino’s high-roller room — where he tipped $100 for complimentary servings of Diet Coke.

Jennifer Lopez, meanwhile, watched nearby for two hours at the Sands before heading off for a spa treatment. She later emerged at the Borgata as a good-luck charm for Ben, who kissed her pinky.

And while the spectacle of Bennifer monopolized most of the attention from the crowd, the person who most fascinated the stars was Phil Gordon, the color commentator for the series and a self-made millionaire who happened to place fourth in the 2000 World Series of Poker.

“Poker professionals are not the kind of people that actors meet in their daily lives,” Gordon tells PEOPLE. “I think for that reason we hold a certain mystique to them.”

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